The Impact of U.S. v. Texas on the Latino Electorate

Earlier today America’s Voice and Latino Decisions released poll results assessing Latino voters’ knowledge of and reaction to the Supreme Court’s U.S. v. Texas decision blocking President Obama’s authority to implement DAPA and to expand DACA.  The poll surveyed 657 registered Latino voters using a mix on online and live telephone interviews between June 29th and July 5th and has a margin of error of +/-3.8 percentage points. (See: toplines and crosstabs ). In what follows, I highlight some of the key results.

Latino voters broadly support the policies at the center of the Republicans’ legal challenge.  Specifically, 83% of respondents either approve or strongly approve of DAPA, which would stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for five years or more and whose children are American citizens, and 81% of respondents either approve or strongly approve of DACA, which provides temporary work permits to undocumented immigrant youth.

AV July 2016 Fig 2

Moreover, 27% of respondents know someone who applied for the DACA program and 59% of respondents know a family member, friend, co-worker, or other acquaintance who is an undocumented immigrant.  Given the personal connection that many Latino voters have to the undocumented community, 50% of respondents think that immigration reform is the most important issue facing the Latino community that should be addressed by Congress and the president.

AV July 2016 Fig1

In the days immediately after the U.S. v. Texas decision was handed down, half of Latino registered voters had heard something about the decision with 66% either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the decision, as compared to 28% who either agree or strongly agree with the decision.

AV July 2016 Fig 3

In response to an open-ended question asking respondents how they felt about the decision, Latino voters felt a mix of disappointment (27%), anger (25%), sadness (21%), and frustration (18%).  Just 9% expressed happiness with the decision, while 6% felt frightened or scared.

AV July 2016 Fig.3

Looking forward to November, the poll suggests that the Supreme Court’s actions may spur increased political participation.  Specifically, 54% of those surveyed responded that the decision made them more enthusiastic about voting in 2016 as compared to 2012. Two-thirds of Latino voters also think that the U.S. Senate should take a vote on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.

Perhaps more significantly, better than four out of five Latino voters indicated that the Supreme Court would affect their vote in the presidential election with 70% responding that they would be worse of if Donald Trump were making appointments to the Court. In contrast, 62% of Latino voters think that they would be better off if Hillary Clinton chose the next members of the Supreme Court.

AV July 2016 Fig 5

The results of the poll also indicate that the U.S. v. Texas decision is reinforcing Latinos’ perceptions about the parties and their candidates.  Just 13% of Latino voters think that the Republican Party cares about their community and nearly half  (46%) of Latino voters think that the GOP has become more hostile to Latinos in recent years.  The opposite holds for the Democrats:  54% of Latino voters perceive the Democrats as caring about their community and 40% think that the Democratic Party has become more welcoming in recent years.

AV July 2016 Fig 6

While Donald Trump is extremely unpopular (with 78% viewing him either unfavorably or very unfavorably and just 16% indicating that they are likely to vote for him), his support for the U.S. v. Texas decision may hurt the Republican Party.  Among those sampled, 66% indicated that Trump’s position on the Court decision makes them somewhat or much less likely to vote for Republican candidates as compared to 21% who responded that Trump’s position would make them somewhat or much more likely to vote for Republicans in November.

AV July 2016 Fig 7

Trump’s unpopularity with Latino voters and his response to the Supreme Court’s decision stands in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton. The former Secretary of State is viewed very or somewhat favorable by 63% of the Latino electorate and 74% responded that they are likely to vote for her this fall.  Clinton’s opposition to the Court’s decision also may help down ticket Democratic candidates as 62% of respondents indicated that Clinton’s response to U.S. v. Texas made them more likely to voter Democratic.

AV July 2016 Fig 8

In sum, the partisan politics underlying the U.S. v. Texas lawsuit and subsequent Supreme Court decision provide a salient reminder to the Latino community of what is a stake in 2016 and provide yet another example of the diverging paths that the parties and their candidates are taking with respect to immigration.

David Damore is a Senior Analyst at Latino Decisions. He is Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Brookings Mountain West fellow.